We had a good baby. She did all the baby things as she was supposed to – a cycle of sleeping and eating and pooping for the first few weeks. Gradually the cycle got longer and there was babbling and play time thrown in. She was a good baby. And when she was a baby and I rocked her to sleep with her bottle late at night, or early in the morning, I never envisioned a 7-year-old who still can’t get herself to sleep.
I know it’s in her nature. Just as it is in mine.
I used to sneak out of bed to read by nightlight – and I had the blankets with burn marks to prove it.
It’s very hard to explain to the little girl who comes to you, an hour or two past her bedtime, and tells you that she just can’t sleep, that you do, in fact, know how she feels. That sleep has always been your enemy too.
I understand how incredibly difficult it is to just lie there and try to clear your mind and let sleep in. To lie there with thoughts coming into your brain that you really need to just right down or you’ll forget and then you won’t be able to sleep because you’ll be trying so hard not to forget.
And then add on the fact that you can’t just turn on the light, grab a pen and write something down, but you have to go and ask Mommy or Daddy how to spell one of the words you need to remember, because this thought won’t leave you alone.
I am 29 years 0lder than you, kid, and I still wait to go to sleep until I can’t keep my eyes open, for fear of having to just lie there quietly and wait for sleep to come to me. Even though I know it does physical and mental damage to me.
And I laugh at how much I understand you when Daddy tells you to try counting sheep to fall asleep when you promise us that all else has failed, and you tell me the next morning that you were counting narwhals instead and maybe you could have fallen asleep early, but you were excited to get to 1,000 anyway, and then you went to 1,013, because 13 is your favourite number, oh and you counted 600 unicorns before you decided to switch to narwhals.
And in that one moment you are so very much like me, in all my sleep avoiding ways, and exactly like your father, because I cannot get a word in edgewise.
You could probably add up all the words I have ever said before 7 am and not get close to the number that kid said yesterday morning.
And so, I beg. I plead. I kindly request that you please, please just stay in your bed and do your best. We’ve tried reading and music and ebooks and blackout curtains and it all just comes back to your stubborn brain.
And I can’t imagine where that came from.